Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ottawa's Chinatown

On April 18, I passed by Umi Cafe in Chinatown and decided to take a break and have a treat. Business was a bit slow on a Monday morning so I had no problem finding a seat. I ordered my favourite green-tea muffin and a Chai latte and relaxed next to the window. I looked outside ....

Across the street is the laundromat with the "coin wash" sign that brings back memory of my Dad. Upon seeing the sign for the 1st time after immigrating to Canada, my father asked me why Canadians liked to wash coins!! Well, he doesn't need to worry abt neither coins nor laundry now.

And not far away is the Lebanese bakery. This shop too has been at the same location for years. I love their pita-bread which are hand-made and oven-baked on-site. Oh, they smell so wonderfully good when the baker takes the fresh bread out of the oven !!

But then I remember what my HK friend Space said in his blog Mind Necessity, that small neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops are disappearing fast. The trend is true here in Ottawa too, with chain-stores opening up in the suburbs, forcing the closure of many small operators!! The two above-mentioned landmarks are the exceptions rather than the rules these days. Just like many Chinatowns in major Canadian cities, the traditional neighbourhood has undergone some major changes in both appearances and characteristics. Most Chinese now live outside of Chinatown and the vacuum is filled by SE Asians and other ethnic groups recently immigrated into Canada.

For example, the owners of Umi Cafe Mr. and Mrs. Cho are from Korea and they are relatively new to the Chinatown neighbourhood. Just like the Chinese immigrants of previous generations (not the loud, newly-rich Chinese), they work long hours, from around 8 am to 10 pm. They do all the sandwiches, baked goods, and beverages and make an honest living selling them.

As consumers, we have a choice of where to shop. Many choose to shop at big-box stores in the 'burbs' because they sell by volume and are cheaper. But for me, small local neighbourhood shops such as Umi Cafe in good old Chinatown will always get my support.

Photo credit: All photos taken by Haricot in Chinatown, Ottawa, except the old street-view picture of Umi Cafe taken by Google Earth.

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新鮮人 said...




the inner space said...

Hari big brother, “On a Monday morning so I had no problem finding a seat. ” so how about parking space or you have to pay the parking meter at the back or side streets?

Location: Umi Cafe 610 Somerset street Ottawa

the inner space said...

哈哈哈哈!還有 Google streetmap 和相片同一地點,還沒有中華街的牌坊。

see HERE please!

Haricot 微豆 said...




Haricot 微豆 said...


Oops!! I meant 暢所欲言。

Haricot 微豆 said...


Thank you for the two Google Earth photos !!

Emi Cafe has free parking at the back of their property.

新鮮人 said...


Haricot 微豆 said...


>> ... 好有家庭feel

所以這边「家庭生意」俗語叫 Mom and Pop shops.

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